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Affordable Course Materials

Affordable Course Materials: No-Cost and Low-Cost Alternatives to Commercial Textbooks and Educational Materials

A Brief Explanation of Affordable Course Materials

The traditional model of textbook publishing is based on for-profit companies selling textbooks that are purchased by students and/or educational institutions and the cost of commercial textbooks increases at a rate that far outpaces the normal rate of inflation. As this exponential increase in textbook costs has not slowed over the years, and thus movements to find solutions that provide textbooks at either no cost or a low-cost are emerging – known as affordable course materials. There are many benefits in shifting from commercial to affordable course materials for students, instructors, and other stakeholders. If you are considering converting part of course, an entire course, or multiple courses from commercial to affordable course materials and would like assistance in identifying affordable materials, contact UNC's

Textbook Affordability Librarian | Stephanie Wiegand | stephanie.wiegand@unco.edu

Types of Affordable Course Materials

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that have been released under an open (often Creative Commons) license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation, and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.                                                                                                                                                                       

 

Open Access Materials (OA)

Journal articles and books that are free, immediately accessible, and online with users allowed to use the materials freely in the digital environment. OA allows for access and use, but not for adaptation or redistribution. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) are examples of OA collections.

 

Library-Licensed Educational Resources (LER)

Content and resources that are paid for by the University Libraries and openly available to the UNC community through user authentication. Not all electronic library materials are licensed for simultaneous use by an entire class, but many are.

 

Authoritative Free-to-Use Web Content

Materials determined by the instructor to be factual and accurate and are freely available through the internet. Resources include TED Talks, Khan Academy, TED Ed, iTunes U, PBS Frontline, EdX, YouTube EDU, and much more.                                                                                                                                      

 

Public Domain Works

Creative materials that are either no longer covered by copyright laws or are released directly by creators into the Public Domain. These works can be used freely by anyone without obtaining the creator’s permission.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Copyrighted Materials Used under the Fair Use Exception

Fair use allows for limited, socially beneficial uses of copyrighted material without seeking permission. It applies to purposes such as criticism, parody, news reporting, research, scholarship, & teaching. Fair use is determined by the purpose, nature, amount, and effect of the market of the use.